|....................... .................... ...Fly Fishing Yellowstone National Park
|November 29, 2015
Summary of the 2015 Yellowstone Country
National Park Streams:
General Description of the 2015 Season:
The season was about as average as average can get. There were no closing due
to high water temperatures, no above normal snowfall amounts, no above normal
fires in the park, or any abnormal conditions I can think of that occurred this past
year. We set many anglers up with flies and fly fishing gear and equipment that
were visiting the park for the first time. As usual, we had a high percentage of
customers returning to the park to fish this past year, some multiple times, who
continued to use our flies and advise. That always makes us happy not only from a
pure business standpoint, but from a satisfaction standpoint of knowing what we
recommend worked. We have a very high percentage (over 80 percent) repeat
customer base. Many of the customers purchased our instructional DVD on fly
fishing the park. We have a huge data base of compliments on the video that
obviously helps those not familiar with the park plan their trip and catch trout. Many
of our Perfect Fly fly patterns were developed from insect samples photographed
and video taped from the streams of Yellowstone National Park. All the streams
produced well during the times they should produce. Following is a summary of the
The Firehole River always kicks the season off to a good start because it is the first
major stream to have good water temperatures and hatches of aquatic insects. It is
always the place to be when the season first opens. Warm water from its many
geysers certainly helps it get it off to a good start, but by the same token, it is the
first major stream in the park to get too warm to fish.
Near the end of the season, when many of the streams are getting too cold to
provide good hatches and active trout, the Firehole once again becomes the place
to fish in the park. Again, the added heat of the geysers plays an important role in
keeping the water within the preferred temperature range when the snow begins to
fall and the air temperatures begin to plunge.
The Gibbon is a long river with a huge change of elevations and consequently, a
huge change in water temperatures at any given time. The lower end of the river,
below Gibbon Falls, can be good in the early part of the season. The Gibbons
meadows is a preferred area to fish in June and early July but it gets too warm in
the early summer. From the meadows, downstream to the falls, is one of our
favorite places to fish except during the very hottest part of the season. The fast,
pocket water keeps the fish active and a diversity of aquatic insect hatches. The
upper Gibbons stays cool most of the season, but the trout are mostly brook trout
and smaller rainbows. In the late season in September and early October, the lower
river below Gibbon Falls again, becomes a preferred area. Migrating fish come all
the way from Hebgen Lake to the lower Gibbons to spawn. Everything above the
falls become to cold to fish good around the same time.
The Madison River (in the park) is one of the best places to fish in the early season
as well as the late season. Such was the case again, this past season. When there
is a heavy snowpack and what is referred to as a good water year, such as this
past season, the Madison can actually fish good all year. It is always less
productive in the hottest part of the summer. Since it is formed by the Gibbons and
the Firehole, it receives benefits from the warmer water from the Firehole River in
the early season as well as a few geysers in the lower Gibbons River. In late
September and October, it has runs of big brown trout looking for areas to spawn
from Hebgen lake. They are always followed by rainbows. This is the time to catch
a big trout and is usually preferred by the locals as well as knowledgeable visiting
anglers. A few good ones were caught this year. You may be fishing with frozen
guides and in a heavy snow, but the change to hook a big trout often outweighs the
adverse environmental conditions. The migrating fish move upstream mostly at
night and hold in the deeper pools and runs during the daytime. It can get crowded
in places like the Barn Hole. Some anglers love this type of fishng and some hate it.
The Gallatin produced well as it almost most always does. It is one of the coldest
streams in the park and one of the last ones to get warm enough to fish, but when
the water temperature gets around fifty degrees, it really turns on and provides
some of the best small stream fishing in the nation. That happened about the first
week of July this past season and as usual, provided an excellent place to catch a
lot of trout for a lot of anglers. Most of the trout are cutbows that average ten to
twelve inches, but there are alway a lot of them to be caught as well as multiple
hatches of aquatic insects making great dry fly action. By mid August, the action
slowed down. It picked up about the middle of September again, but nothing like
the month of July, and nothing to equal the opportunity in the Northeast or
Southwest corner of the park.
The Gardner River produced (by those wise enough not to drive right by) some of
the best fishing in the park. We think it is so close to the main entrance, most
anglers not familiar with the park, simply can't believe good fly fishing opportunity
exist that near an entrance. They want to see more the park, naturally, and the
results is many drive by it coming and going without fishing it. The grass is always
greener on the other side of the hill, or in this case, mountain. The Gardner again
this past year provided a great salmonfly hatch as well as a excellent Golden
stonefly hatch. It is as good as it gets in the park. Little Yellow stoneflies pick up the
action about the time the Goldens are finishing up. .
Yellowstone River (Canyon Section):
As always, if the water is clear and flowing at a good level, the Yellowstone Grand
Canyon is hard to beat. As always, this year and every year, it is one of the most
difficult to access areas of the park. The lower end near the bridge isn't too bad but
the canyon below the falls, accessed from the seven mile hole, is hell for anyone
but a healthy, younger person. It is a seven miles alright - seven straight up and
seven miles straight down. When you get there, it is usually one fish after another.
Our customers that make the hike and or stayed overnight, reported catching a lot
of cutthroat trout this past year.
Yellowstone River (Black Canyon):
We had several customers who fished the Black Canyon this past season. It is a
great place to fish in August and September. It does require a lot of hiking but it is
well worth it. An overnight stay is the best approach, or other wise, you will not be
able to see and experience the less fished water. The snow pack and rain amounts
this past season provided excellent fishing in the Black Canyon. It provided plenty
of water for the rattlesnakes as well.
Yellowstone River Above Yellowstone Lake and below the Lake to the
We had good and bad reports from the Yellowstone river below the lake to the falls.
That is normal, or at least is has been for the last fifteen or so years. There
probably will never be the huge populations of big cutthroat trout there once was
thanks to the lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. The reports we got this past year were
as good as any we have received or experienced during the last fifteen years, but
the best we can say about it is the fishing is usually better at other locations.
Remember, the season doesn't open there until July 15th.
The Yellowstone River above the lake continued to have mixed reports and results
from the few customers we had who fished it. The lake's lake trout has hurt the
population of cutthroat trout in all the spawning tributary streams. We generally
don't recommend it, except for those who want a backcountry experience in
sections of the park rarely seen by most anglers. You can catch trout, and usually
plenty of them, but it won't produce as well as many other far easier to get too
As always, the Lamar was good and bad, mostly good from mid-July through
September. By bad, I simply mean when heavy thunderstorms drench the high
elevations from which the Lamer comes from, it turns a dark, red muddy color. That
can happen even when it doesn't rain a drop in the lower section along the road.
When the river was clear, and even half way clear this past year, it produced a lot
of good size cutthroat trout. It is hard to beat when conditions are good. The upper
part, about 30 miles with no road access, is just as good or better, but a lot of
hiking or a good horse is required to fish it. This past season was a very good one.
We had lots of customers fish the Lamar and do well.
Soda Butte Creek:
If you could design a Perfect small trout stream with a beautiful setting and a good
number of willing trout, and you were smart, you would just make a copy of Soda
Butte Creek. From about mid July through most of August, the lower meadow
section of the creek had a good populations of large, spawning cutthroat trout. It
also had a good populations of anglers catching them. Of course, that's always a
good indication the fishing is good. I advise all of our customers fishing the park in
late July and August to fish Soda Butte at least a short time. You will think you
passed away and went to trout heaven. You do need to stay in touch with the
stream conditions. Heavy rain can spoil it for a day or two.
The upper section above the meadows has a lot more trout, just not quite as large.
It always has a lot less anglers, but not because the fishing is not good, only
because they are all fishing the meadows downstream. This year the stream stayed
cold most of the summer and the fishing was great. That is more often the case
than not. The stream above Ice Box Canyon stays in good shape all summer with
very few anglers and lots of fish, but the cutts will average a smaller size.
The Post Card picture perfect creek is almost always in good shape and producing
a lot of trout, and some very good ones. It can get messed up from melting snow in
the early season, but it is always fairly stable in that respect. It has a good
reputation for a good reason. It is not only a beautiful place to fish, it always
produces good dry fly action throughout its prime season time, and such was the
case this past year. We had a lot of good reports from the many customers we set
up to fish Slough Creek. It has a huge diversity of aquatic insects and usually
requires matching the hatch to be most successful.
The upper Lewis River was a good place to be in mid-September and early
October. Large browns move out of the lake into the Lewis channel. We only had
one crew who chose to fish the channel this past year that I remember. They
reported catching a lot of large brown trout. The middle lewis river, or the slower
section of water you cross coming into the park from the south entrance, is always
a tough section to fish, but has plenty of large, wise brown trout to play with. It is
just there are so many other, easier to fish destinations, it is often overlooked. The
lower Lewis, or section below the falls in the canyon, is rarely fished and difficult to
get to, but always produces. We didn't get any reports from it this past year that I
made a note of. .
In the late season, or the first of October, the Snake River usually gets some large
browns moving up river to spawn from the lake but quite frankly, the Lewis channel
would be a better choice. We did have one fairly local Wyoming customer who
knows that well and took advantage of some big browns this past season. It does
have the advantage of fewer anglers, usually none. Few people stop and think
about it, but it is the beginning on one of the most fished trout streams in the
western United States. Yes, it is the Snake River. Most of the river in the park is
rarely fished, but does provide good fishing. It just requires a lot of hiking to get to
the better sections. We have a website page on the Snake from the park to the
Idaho state line. I'll link it here for those interested in fishing it when they come to
The Bechler River of the Cascade Corner of the park is rarely fished by anyone
other than locals, mostly Idaho anglers. The Bechler Meadows is a great
destination to fish in September, and was fished this past year by two groups of our
repeat customers. They reported catching some large trout and enough for them to
state they always will make that one of their destinations to go to when fishing the
park. It is best fished on an overnight trip because it requires a good amount of
hiking to get to the meadow section.
Like the Bechler, the Fall River of the Cascade Corner of the park is one of the
most overlooked, under fished streams in the park. We did receive some reports
from customers visiting the cascade corner and stopping to fish the river, but none
who fished it above the section near the park boundary. It is truly wild, remote
country, rarely fished by anyone.
Streams Outside Yellowstone National Park: These
still have open seasons in many sections of the rivers.
Madison River (from Hebgen Lake to Ennis):
Weekly Updated Fishing Report
Yellowstone River (Outside the Park)
Weekly Updated Fishing Report
Gallatin River (Outside the Park)
Weekly Updated Fishing Report
Henry's Fork Snake River Idaho:
Weekly Updated Fishing Report